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Users and Producers of African Income : Measuring African Progress

Jerven, Morten LU (2011) In African Affairs 110(439). p.169-190
Abstract
This article traces how African incomes have been measured through history, and shows that there has been a conflict of aims between producers and users of national income estimates. Politicians and international organizations seek income measures that reflect current political and economic priorities and achievements. Thus the importance given to markets, the state, and peasants in the estimates varies through time and space. Meanwhile statisticians aim to produce a measure that gives the best possible reflection of the economy given the available data and definitions at any time. Scholars prefer a measure that is consistent through time and space so that ‘progress’ can be measured, compared, and analysed, while not being able to reach... (More)
This article traces how African incomes have been measured through history, and shows that there has been a conflict of aims between producers and users of national income estimates. Politicians and international organizations seek income measures that reflect current political and economic priorities and achievements. Thus the importance given to markets, the state, and peasants in the estimates varies through time and space. Meanwhile statisticians aim to produce a measure that gives the best possible reflection of the economy given the available data and definitions at any time. Scholars prefer a measure that is consistent through time and space so that ‘progress’ can be measured, compared, and analysed, while not being able to reach consensus on how ‘progress’ is best calculated or defined. The result is not an objective measure of progress, but rather an expression of development priorities determined by changes in the political economy. The article provides a much-needed study of the ability of the statistical offices to provide income statistics independently and regularly. These data are of crucial importance as they enter the public domain in policy evaluations, political debates, and progress towards lofty aims such as the Millennium Development Goals. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
African Affairs
volume
110
issue
439
pages
22 pages
publisher
Oxford University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:79953737923
ISSN
0001-9909
DOI
10.1093/afraf/adq079
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
89501374-46f5-4ee3-a21b-7c04eb23105c
date added to LUP
2017-06-16 04:57:46
date last changed
2017-06-26 12:53:09
@article{89501374-46f5-4ee3-a21b-7c04eb23105c,
  abstract     = {This article traces how African incomes have been measured through history, and shows that there has been a conflict of aims between producers and users of national income estimates. Politicians and international organizations seek income measures that reflect current political and economic priorities and achievements. Thus the importance given to markets, the state, and peasants in the estimates varies through time and space. Meanwhile statisticians aim to produce a measure that gives the best possible reflection of the economy given the available data and definitions at any time. Scholars prefer a measure that is consistent through time and space so that ‘progress’ can be measured, compared, and analysed, while not being able to reach consensus on how ‘progress’ is best calculated or defined. The result is not an objective measure of progress, but rather an expression of development priorities determined by changes in the political economy. The article provides a much-needed study of the ability of the statistical offices to provide income statistics independently and regularly. These data are of crucial importance as they enter the public domain in policy evaluations, political debates, and progress towards lofty aims such as the Millennium Development Goals.},
  author       = {Jerven, Morten},
  issn         = {0001-9909},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {439},
  pages        = {169--190},
  publisher    = {Oxford University Press},
  series       = {African Affairs},
  title        = {Users and Producers of African Income : Measuring African Progress},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adq079},
  volume       = {110},
  year         = {2011},
}